Tips for Finding an Apartment in NYC

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Every summer, recent college grads flock to New York City, often for a new job at a flashy big company or promising start-up. After graduating from Fairfield last spring, I also applied to many a job in New York. I even started looking at apartments before I was employed, as one of my roommates started working a month earlier than I did. While I didn’t have a job, I was determined to get one in New York, and looking for that apartment early made all the difference.

We didn’t have a very good plan when we started to look at first and that was crucial. I was still living at home and I had to come to NYC on multiple occasions to look at certain apartments we randomly looked up on StreetEasy. Thankfully, we decided to wait another month for the move-in date. More research and more walking around New York, looking at apartments was very helpful.

Here are my tips for successfully finding an apartment:

Make a budget

Luckily, my roommates and I were mostly on the same page budget wise. We had said things like “we’d be willing to pay $100 more a month for a super and a washing machine in unit.” Also, beware of the “net prices” of apartments. It sounds like a good deal and the one month rent-free was nice, but I still have to cough up the extra money every month.

Make a list of necessities

In addition to your budget, this list can have things like laundry in the building, doorman, live-in super, close to restaurants or grocery stores, gyms, etc. My friends had a list that also said things like “Can you hear the traffic from outside?” “Is it on the ground floor?” “Does the building have a history of rats/roaches?” (Unless it’s brand new, they all do).

Do research/ take a walk/look around different neighborhoods

When we first looked we stayed at a friends apartment in Lenox Hill, so we looked around that area. My roommate’s sister lived in the East Village, so we also looked around there. I didn’t really know what neighborhood I wanted to be in, but after a whole day of looking around two specific areas, I realized there were many more places to look. We found a decent place with many of our list items checked off in Murray Hill.

Look on StreetEasy or contact a broker

While the photos and information may not always be accurate, this site is a helpful tool. I literally found the apartment we currently live in on StreetEasy and while it’s small and has its moments, its a pretty decent spot with no fees. We also had gotten in touch with a broker from a friend, and she gave us some helpful information. We didn’t end up meeting with or seeing apartments with the broker, which is definitely a good way to save money.

Give yourself time, but don’t be afraid to jump on an opportunity

Time is essential for finding the perfect apartment. While these apartments come and go, its necessary to look around and find areas that you like, in your price range, with your list of wants and needs. We did look for awhile, but I’m glad we did wait to look at more apartments in different areas with an organized plan. (Spreadsheets are helpful as well!) However, don’t be afraid to jump on an opportunity if it feels right. An apartment in our friend’s building with HUGE rooms and closets, a big living space, all the bells and whistles really went literally within hours. We looked, we loved it, we decided to look at others, and by the time we called to put down a deposit, the apartment was already taken. If you love it, don’t hesitate, especially if it checks all the boxes.

Thanks for reading and good luck with the apartment search! Please leave feedback and/or questions in the comments below.

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